For Newbies: A Crash Course in Mindfulness Meditation

For Newbies: A Crash Course in Mindfulness Meditation

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The words perplex you.

Mindfulness meditation.

“Is mindfulness meditation a yoga thing?” you think.  “Maybe it’s something that robed monks do on top of a mountain.”

You quickly settle on the idea of candles, incense, and a cross legged pose you couldn’t get into if you tried.

But what if I told you that all of those images are incomplete?

 I’m here to tell you that though mindfulness meditation can sound mysterious, it’s definitely not.

In fact, I myself am an ordained Buddhist monk in the Soto Zen tradition. And guess what? I often meditate in normal clothes in common places like my office or home.

Right now, I want you to take any preconceived notion of mindfulness meditation that you have out of your mind. Do whatever you need to do to wipe the slate clean.

In the beginning, there’s only one thing you need to know.

Mindfulness meditation is simply the process of focusing our attention, rather than letting our minds wander. 

Seriously. That’s it. Simple concept, right?

Newbies often think that mindfulness meditation must take place in some kind of perfectly crafted environment.  Sure, you can meditate that way. But you don’t have to.

When it comes to mindfulness meditation, there is no right or wrong. We can practice this type of meditation at absolutely any time or in any place.

All you have to do is simply be. 

Our aim in mindfulness meditation is just to be fully present in the moment. But the difficulty comes when we give up because our minds wander.

New meditators assume that a wandering mind means they’re doing something wrong. However, a wandering mind is a natural thing. That’s what minds do.

There is no right or wrong. We can only PRACTICE mindfulness.

The key word here is practice.

You see, mindfulness meditation is a developed skill.  It’s like swimming. You don’t swim in your first lesson. You learn through practice-first by floating, and then by learning to move in the water.

I want you to think of mindfulness meditation the same way.

There is no perfect. There is only practice.

Let’s try a simple experiment. Are you ready?

Set a cell phone timer for three minutes. Don’t skip this part. It’s important.

Now sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Simply start counting your breaths. Count “one” for the first inhalation – exhalation cycle, “two” for the next cycle and so on. Count to ten and then start over. If your attention wanders and you lose count, then start over with one. Keep doing this until your timer goes off.

Now that wasn’t so difficult, was it?

You just practiced mindfulness meditation.  And it wasn’t at all as complex as you had imagined it to be. Sure, your mind wandered. But that’s ok.

Keep doing this exercise every day for a week. Before you know it, you’ll have developed a mindfulness meditation routine.

And check out these blogs to learn more.

To your mindfulness,

Dr. Marchand



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